Can Geese Eat Popcorn? Is it Safe?

I think most folks know by now that geese and other animals shouldn’t eat most human food. They definitely shouldn’t be eating our junk food, loaded as it is, and salt, sugar, and a bunch of other ingredients that can make them sick.

collage of geese eating various foods
A collage of geese eating various foods

There are a few snack foods out there that we can safely give to animals, including our geese. Let’s look at popcorn, for instance. Can geese eat popcorn, and is it safe?

Yes, popcorn is safe for geese as long as it’s plain and they only get it in very limited amounts. Popcorn is actually a decent source of energy, fairly easy to digest, and even has some minerals that they need.

I know this is going to be surprising to some readers, and even more so to folks who have read my other work on the subject. Yes, I’m fairly fanatical about not giving our animals any food that we know to be bad!

But as it turns out, you can give your geese popcorn as a treat every now and then and feel pretty good about doing so, or at least not have to worry about it. But, there’s a lot more you’ll need to know before you do that, so keep reading…

Do Geese Like Popcorn?

Yes, they do. Geese, like most animals, tend to like tasty, crispy carbohydrate-laden foods, and popcorn definitely fits the bill.

Scattering a little bit of popcorn for your flock to eat will give them something fun and exciting to do, and they usually can’t get enough of the stuff. So go easy with the quantity…

Is Popcorn a Healthy Food for Geese?

No, popcorn is not strictly speaking a healthy food for geese. However, as far as treats go and junk food type treats in particular, it is pretty benign.

Popcorn can be a good source of easily digestible energy and it even has a decent amount of vitamins and minerals that can benefit geese.

Now, saying that it only applies to plain, unsalted popcorn. More on that in a bit, but assuming that you are giving your geese plain popcorn you’ll be happy to know that it has a fair amount of B vitamins, particularly B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6.

Hardly worth writing home over, but nice to have. But if we look at the mineral content of popcorn we find some truly pleasant surprises!

Most kinds of popcorn are packed with phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese along with a great amount of iron, copper, selenium, zinc, and a little bit of calcium to bring it all together.

Make no mistake, all of these nutrients are things that geese need in their diet, and when you look at the total body benefit it can improve many facets of a goose’s health, tissue growth, and the healing of bones to better egg laying capability, and strong, healthy eggshells. It can even improve circulatory health and help a goose cope with the stress of the molt.

Not bad at all for something you would usually give to your flock as a treat…

Is Unpopped Popcorn Safe for Geese?

No, and I’m making that a blanket statement. Nominally, a goose can easily swallow and probably digest kernels of popcorn, but I think it is a bad idea because they are so very hard, even compared to dried corn which can sometimes be problematic on its own.

The lack of digestibility offsets the nutritional content of the kernels and also greatly increases the chances of problems like crop impaction and similar issues with the gizzard.

So, I say no to unpopped kernels, and I highly recommend that you remove them from your popped popcorn.

Is Popped Popcorn Safe for Geese?

Yes, popped popcorn is a safe and reasonably healthy choice for a snack.

Is Buttered Popcorn Safe for Geese?

No. Butter is something that geese should not have, as it is highly likely to cause significant digestive upset, diarrhea and other issues. Most popcorn brands are loaded with the stuff, so avoid giving it to your flock.

Is Cheese Popcorn Safe for Geese?

Absolutely not. Cheesy popcorn is invariably packed with strange ingredients that geese should never have, and it’s also entirely too loaded with salt and calories to be acceptable.

Is Salted Popcorn Safe for Geese?

No, generally. The most lightly salted popcorn, assuming it has no other ingredients, is probably okay but the vast majority of popcorn out there is not lightly salted. Too much salt can cause significant harm to geese. See the next section.

Can Popcorn Hurt Geese in Any Way?

Yes, it can, in several ways if you are careless…

For starters, I mentioned the problems with unpopped popcorn above. Those kernels are incredibly dense and hard and if you allow your geese to eat them it will set the stage for some pretty significant digestive disasters, of which crop impaction and similar issues with the gizzard are the main ones.

Another major issue is posed by added ingredients like extra salt, butter, cheese and other flavorings. On popcorn, most of these things are strange, man-made chemicals that are likely to harm your geese.

Under ideal conditions, they will still add entirely too many calories and will give your birds way too much salt to be good for them. Too much salt can lead to sodium poisoning which can send one of your poor geese into shock, seizures, or even kill them.

Lastly, popcorn is in no way nutritionally complete for geese, and they obviously cannot live on popcorn alone. But potentially worse than this, if you allow them to fill up on popcorn they will miss out on other, more nutritious foods that you should be giving them instead.

How Often Should Geese Eat Popcorn?

I would give geese no more than two small servings of popcorn a week as a treat, incentive or snack. As long as the popcorn is plain, with no salt or any of that other nonsense I discussed above, it won’t hurt them, and it’ll give them some energy and something enjoyable to eat.

But as a reminder, don’t let them overdo it; never let your geese eat freely from a huge quantity of popcorn.

What’s the Best Way to Serve Popcorn to Geese?

I’ll bet you already know how to make popcorn. So simply pop it, let it cool down to a safe temperature, and then hand it over to your flock. Remember, no butter, no salt, no crazy seasonings. Plain, unsalted popcorn only!

You can toss it to them, scatter it, put it in a feeder, let them eat it out of hand, whatever: they will eat it up quickly and easily!

Never Give Geese Popcorn if it is Rotting or Moldy

One more thing to keep in mind if you are giving popcorn to your flock is that you should never let geese eat any moldy or bad popcorn. Stale is fine, stale popcorn won’t hurt them, but moldy popcorn can be especially dangerous.

That’s because corn, generally, can host specific kinds of mold that are capable of producing some seriously deadly toxins, ones that are extra lethal to birds and that means geese, too.

These toxic mold compounds, called mycotoxins, can kill an affected bird very quickly, you never want to take a risk with any popcorn that is moldy or seems off. Just throw it out instead!

Is Popcorn Safe for Goslings, Too?

Yes, but with some precautions: first, as before they should only eat completely plain, popped popcorn. Second, it’s a good idea to crush up the individual pieces into little tidbits that are much easier for goslings to eat.

Third, only give them a tiny amount every now and then because they can’t afford to fill up on junk when they need constant good nutrition and calories in order to develop properly.

Keep in mind that chronic malnutrition is associated with some devastating health issues in young geese, most infamously angel wings syndrome. Popcorn could contribute to that, so make sure your baby geese are getting plenty of the right stuff in their diet!

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